Southover Bonfire Society’s motto is Advance and you’ll find a warm welcome from members of our very inclusive and family-friendly group – one of seven bonfire societies in Lewes.

Southover is … one of the oldest Societies in Lewes – having first formed in 1886 at the request of the then Lord of Southover. It reformed in 2005 and now has around 660 members.

Southover is … one of the most picturesque and historic areas of Lewes and a pleasure to process around as we mark our boundaries on bonfire night. Look out for the Timetable of Events in our bonfire programme which we publish and start to sell in late September. This lists the approximate times and places for each of the SBS processions you can take part in as a new member of the Society – as long as you’re wearing your special Membership Badge.

Put simply, we process to remember:

  • The 17 martyrs, men and women, who were burned at the stake in the town between 1555 and 1557 for their religious beliefs. They died outside the Old Star Inn where the War Memorial stands today.
  • On the night we carry 17 burning crosses to represent each of these ordinary people who were killed in the reign of Bloody Mary for refusing to renounce their chosen religion. You can read more about them here.
  • We also remember the dead of two World Wars and hold two services of remembrance for them during our bonfire processions.
  • Guy Fawkes, the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot and the saving of the King and Parliament are a focus of our fiery antics too as is the landing of William of Orange.
  • And we also process because it’s fun!

Every Society has different ranks. This is rooted in tradition and springs from the mid 1800s when the anonymity of guernseys and masks gave way to an increasing variety of outfits and costumes – generally with some local relevance or connection or just because folk feel like it! Southover Bonfire Society members process as either Cluniac Monks (First Pioneers); Buccaneers (Second Pioneers) or Smugglers. You can find out more in our Costume section on this website.

We’ve even got a Society mascot, Wilson, who can often be found at torch making (and he doesn’t really help!).

We are proud to say that our Society HQ is The Swan pub in Southover who support us all the way!